The competition for men’s curling at the Beijing Olympics was as tough as it has ever been, said St. Albert resident and alternate for Team Gushue, Marc Kennedy.
“There were no easy games, and the quality of play was incredible. The Gushue boys may not have been at their best, but they were pushed to the brink by some great international teams. This has changed a lot since my first Olympics 12 years ago,” he told The Gazette this week.
The Canadian men’s curling team skipped by Brad Gushue won the Olympic bronze after beating the former Olympic champs Team Shuster of the U.S. on Feb. 18.
Kennedy said the game was a tough one.
“We jumped out to an early lead, but the U.S.A clawed their way back and even took the lead after the seventh end,” said Kennedy in an email to The Gazette.
The turning point, he continued, was a great shot by Gushue in the seventh end.
“Then the guys played their two best ends of the game, taking two points in the eighth end and a steal of two more points in the ninth end. This gave them a three-point lead playing the last end. A few good shots in the last end and that was it!” Kennedy said.
The team had lost a disappointing game in the semi-finals against Sweden the evening before. Kennedy said the mood going into the bronze game was great considering that loss.
“The bronze-medal game can be a very tough one to play because you are still mentally and emotionally drained from the game the night before,” he said.
Kennedy said the team deserved a lot of credit for the way they put that loss behind them and refocused.
“This is not an easy thing to do,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy said one of the things that stood out for him was that both Mark Nichols (third) Gushue went out to practice throwing rocks the morning of the bronze game.
“This was a real sign of how important it was to them to play well that day,” he said.
Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin, took home the Olympic gold this year. Team Edin won 5-4 against Great Britain skipped by Bruce Mouat.
“I'm happy for Niklas Edin and his team. They have worked very hard and have been one of the best teams in the world for a long time. We know those guys very well, and they have done a lot to help grow the game in Europe. They are very well-deserving of the gold,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy said it might take some time to digest the Olympic experience before he can talk about takeaways or lessons, but what he can say is the team grinded their way to the bronze medal.
There is great importance in giving it everything you have, even when you are not at your best, said Kennedy.
“That is the true measure of an athlete. And these guys exemplified that this Winter Games,” he said.
As for what Kennedy has in store after the flight home from Beijing, he said will be rejoining Team Jacobs for the Brier next week in Lethbridge.
“I am looking forward to spending a week at home with my family, and then will compete to try and wear the Maple Leaf at the Worlds in Las Vegas!”